From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations summary study guide



From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations summary study guide


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From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations summary study guide

AP World History - Stearns
Chapter 1 – From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations

I. Introduction
A. Human origin – 2.5 million years ago
1. 1/4000 of earth’s existence – 24 hour day – last 5 minutes
B. Human negatives and positives
1. Aggressiveness, long baby time, back problems, death fears
2. Grip, high/regular sex drive, omnivores, facial expressions, speech
C. Paleolithic (Old Stone) Age – 2.5 million to 12000 BCE
1. Simple tools – increase in size, brain capacity – Homo erectus

II. Late Paleolithic Developments

  1. Homo sapiens sapiens – 120,000 years ago – killed off others?
    1. Population growth required change – 1 square mile to hunt/gather for 2 people
      1. Long breast feeding – limit fertility
      2. Relative gender equality – women harder, but both contributed
    2. Rituals for death, explain environment, rules for social behavior
    3. Greatest achievement – spread over earth
      1. Fire/animal skin
      2. 14,000 Great ice age ended
    4. Tools – sharpen animal bones, rafts
    5. Domesticated animals
    6. Conflicts w/ others – bone breaks/skull fractures

B. Knowledge based on cave paintings, tool remains, burial sites

III. Neolithic (New Stone) Age Revolution
A. Agriculture changed everything – could support more people
1. Settle one spot – focus on economic, political, religious goals
2. 14,000-10,000 BCE – 6 million to 100 million people
B. Causes of Agriculture
1. Population increase – better climate
2. Big game animals decreasing – hunting yield declined
3. Gradual change – harvesting wild grains to planting seeds
C. New animals domesticated – pigs, sheep, goats, cattle
1. Meat, skins, dairy
2. Advantage to Europe?
D. Why Middle East?
1. Water source, fertile area, not forested, lacked animals
E. “Revolution” gradual – many combined changes w/ hunting gathering – 1000 years
F. Effects
1. Longer work week – labor intensive
2. Build houses, villages
3. Varied clothing
G. Resistance – too complicated, boring, difficult
1. Disease – those in villages developed immunity – nomads died off/joined
2. Some isolated societies still avoid
a. Harsh climate, no exchange of knowledge
b. Tough, nomadic invaders
3. Nomads – not that influential accept for interaction
H. Changes
1. Specialization
2. Technology – control of nature – storage facilities, pottery
3. Metal tools – Bronze Age 3000 – Iron Age 1500 BCE

IV. Civilization

  1. Hunter/gatherer – no bigger than 60 – food runs out
    1. Other options – slash and burn
    2. Tribal bands – strong kinship – relatively small
  2. Benefits of settling

1. Houses, wells, improvements used by future, irrigation
2. Irrigation/defense required work together – organization from above
C. Catal Huyuk – Turkey – 7000 BCE civilization studied
1. Rooftop activity – broken bones
2. Religious responsibilities/fertility gods – images
3. Trade w/others for peace
D. Definition – societies economic surplus > division of labor/social hierarchy
1. Formal political organizations – no relation to family unit
2. City benefits – wealth, exchange of ideas, artistic/intellectual expression, manufacturing/trade specialization
E. Writing
1. First - Cuneiform – wedge shaped Middle East
2. Tax efficiently
3. Contracts/treaties
4. Build on past wisdom
5. People look at world as something to be understood rationally
6. Not all peoples literate, each civilization only a minority
F. Greek term - Barbarians – civilization vs. nomads – wanderers
G. Negatives of civilization
1. Class/caste distinctions - slavery
2. Separation between rulers/ruled
3. Warlike
4. Gender inequality – patriarchal – men get manufacturing, political, religious leaders
H. Benefits of nomadic living
1. More regulations – word of mouth
2. Respect of elders/children
3. Herding economies
4. Technological improvements – stirrup, weaponry
I. Impact on Environment
1. Deforestation
2. Erosion, flooding

In Depth: The Idea of Civilization in World History Perspective
A. Differences between civilized and barbaric/savages long held
1. Chinese – cultural, not biological or racial – could adapt
2. American Indians – feared Chichimecs – sons of the dog
B. Related to fear of invasion/outsiders common
C. Civilis – of the citizens – Latin
1. Rome – urban dwellers vs. forest/desert dwellers
2. Greece – bar, bar – barbarians
D. Historians initially – cultural differences, then 19th century racial differences
1. Some races more inventive, moral, courageous, artistic
a. Savage to civilized – white,yellow, red, brown, black
b. Social Darwinism – historiography
c. Justified European expansion – White Man’s Burden
d. Ethnocentrism
E. Other approach – civilization just one form of social organization
1. All societies produce cultures, though might lack food surplus/specialization
2. All peoples capable – but lack resources, historical circumstances, desire

V. Tigris-Euphrates Civilization
A. Precedents
1. Writing
2. Law codes
3. City planning/architecture
4. Trade institutions & money
B. Mesopotamia – land between two rivers
1. One of 3 civilizations from scratch – Central America, China, Mesopotamia
2. Farming required irrigation
3. Sumerians 3500 BCE
a. Cuneiform – scribes
b. Sumerian art – frescoes for temples
c. Science – astronomy – calendar/forecasts – aided agriculture
1. Charts of constellations
d. Ziggurats – first monumental architecture
e. Role of geography
1. Swift and unpredictable floods – religious
2. Polytheism – punishment of humans through floods – Noah
3. Gloomy – punishment in afterlife – hell
4. Easy to invade – constant war
f. City-states – king w/ divine authority
1. Regulate religion
2. Court system for justice
3. Land worked by slaves – warfare created labor surplus
g. Inventions – wheeled carts, fertilizer, silver money
4. Babylonians
a. Hammurabi – first codified law
1. Procedure for courts
2. Property rights
3. Harsh punishments
5. Indo-European invasions from North
a. Adopted culture
C. Egyptian Civilization
1. Benefited from trade/technology of Mesopotamia
2. Geographic factors
a. Difficult to invade
b. Regular flooding cycle
3. Economy – government directed vs. Mesopotamia – freedom
4. Pharoahs – godlike – tombs – pyramids
5. Interactions with Kush to the South
6. Egyptian art – lively, cheerful, colorful – positive afterlife – surrounded by beauty
7. Architecture influenced later Mediterranean
D. Indian and Chinese River Valley Civilizations
1. Indus River – Harappa/Mohenjo Daro
a. Unique alphabet/art
1. Harappan alphabet not deciphered
b. Invasion plus invasion by Indo-Europeans – difficult to understand culture
2. Huanghe (Yellow River)
a. Isolated, little overland trading
b. History part fact/fiction
c. State organized irrigation
d. Elaborate intellectual life
1. Writing – knotted ropes, scratches of lines, ideographic symbols
2. Delicate art, musical interest
3. Limited materials – basic housing
E. Heritage of the River Valley Civilizations
1. Accomplishments
a. Monuments
b. Wheel
c. Taming of horse
d. Square roots
e. Monarchies/bureaucracies
f. Calendars/time
g. Major alphabets
2. How much are these civilizations “origin” of today
a. Except for China, all have a break from past
b. Roman empire – god-like king
c. Slavery
d. Scientific achievements – Greeks studied Egyptians
3. East vs. West
a. Mesopotamians – gap between humankind and nature
b. China – basic harmony all live together
c. Temple building, art, architecture – Mesopotamia to Middle East/Greece
d. Mesopotamia – regional cultures created that could survive invasion
1. Phoenicians – 22 letter alphabet
a. Colonized – simplified number system
2. Jews – morally/ethically based monotheistic religion
a. Semitic people – small, relatively weak – only autonomous when region was in chaos
b. Believed god- Jehovah – guided destinies of people
1. Orderly, just – not whimsical
c. Created moral code
d. Religion basis for Christianity/Islam
e. God’s compact with Jews
1. Little conversion
2. Minority position in Middle East

F. The First Civilizations
1. Clear division between river valley civilizations and classical civilizations
a. Invasion/natural calamities – India
b. Invasion/political decline – Egypt
c. Mesopotamia – break but bridges – smaller cultures
1. Values and institutions spread
2. Theme emerges – “Steadily proliferating contacts against a background of often fierce local identity”
3. Integrating force
a. Local autonomy lessens – priests/kings increase power
4. Four centers of civilization started
5. Close neighbors – Egypt/Mesopotamia – different politics, art, beliefs on death
6. Diversity and civilization worked together


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From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations summary study guide

Chapter 1, From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations


The earliest known humans lived in east Africa about 2.5 million years ago.  These humans lived by hunting and gathering.  Gradually, the most advanced human species, Homo sapiens sapiens, migrated from Africa to the Middle East, then into Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.  They developed tools out of stones, sticks, and other natural objects.  Agriculture began form about 10,000 years ago onward.  This in turn encouraged the development of civilization.  Early civilizations arose in five different sites, four along the fertile shores of great environments and the search for food supplies.  The development of agriculture offered different opportunities for humans, including altered family forms, formal political structures and cities, and monumental buildings.  But change took place during this time period slowly.  The impact of this change in human civilization can be seen with children who were more supported, nurtured and disciplined because they were a vital part of the family labor force in agricultural societies.

Key Concepts:

Human Life Before Agriculture:

  • Humans learned simple tool use, tamed fire, and developed bigger brains and a more erect posture during the Paleolithic (Old Stone) Age, which lasted from about 2.5 million years to about 12,000 B.C.E.
  • Over time, the hunting and gathering species Homo sapiens sapiens, which originated in Africa and from which all modern humans are descended, came to dominate other human types.
  • Stone tool use gradually improved, and humans developed speech, rituals, and culture as they gradually spread across the globe.
  • In the Mesolithic (Middle Stone) Age, from about 12,000-8,000 B.C.E, humans made more advanced tools, fought in more wars, and increased their population considerably.


The Neolithic Revolution:

  • In the Neolithic (New Stone) Age, between roughly 8,000 and 3,500 B.C.E., some human societies experienced one of the most dramatic developments in human history.
  • These groups mastered sedentary agriculture (this is often called the “Neolithic Revolution”) and domesticated animals.  These innovations produced the food surpluses and rising populations that made possible the founding of cities and the increasing specialization of occupations within human societies.
  • At the same time, pastoral nomadism developed, but these nomads remained the periphery of civilizations and sedentary agricultural zones.
  • Soon after the introduction of agriculture, societies in the Middle East began replacing stone tools with those made of metal—first copper, then bronze.  These tools improved agriculture, aided in warfare, and benefited manufacturing artisans.



  • The emergence of civilization occurred in many agricultural societies.  It often built on additional changes in technology including the introduction of metal tools.
  • Most civilizations had common features including cities, writing, formal institutions (especially government and religion), stratified classes, and tradeCatal Huyuk is an excellent example of an important town in an early Neolithic civilization.
  • Early civilizations included those in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus River Valley, and northern China.


The Heritage of the River Valley Civilizations:

  • River valley civilizations left a number of durable innovations, but most declined after about 1,200 B.C.E, This declines was often due to nomadic migrations across Eurasia by pastoral nomadic chariot peoples from the central Asian steppe.
  • A number of small population centers emerged in the Middle East.  These civilizations introduced further innovations including the religion of Judaism, the alphabet, iron tools, and extensive trade connections across the Mediterranean basin.


The First Civilizations:

  • The river valley civilizations created a basic set of tools, intellectual concepts such as writing and mathematics, and political forms that persisted across three continents.
  • The rise of civilizations reduced local autonomy, as kings and priests tried to spread trade contacts and cultural forms and warred to gain new territory.
  • Despite wars and trade, civilizations had little contact with each other and thus developed separate cultural patterns.


Key Terms:

  • Paleolithic, or Old Stone, Age:


  • Mesolithic, or Middle Stone, Age:
  • Neolithic Revolution:


  • Prehistoric:
  • Matrilocal:


  • Hammurabi:
  • Indo – Europeans:


  • Homo sapiens:
  • Agrarian revolution:


  • Matrilineal:
  • Domestication:


  • Harappa:
  • Savages:


  • Neanderthals:
  • Natufian complex:


  • Mesoptamia:
  • Pastoralism:


  • Jericho:
  • Social differentiation:


  • Shang dynasty:
  • Metalworking:


  • Civilization:
  • Catal Huyuk:


  • River Valley Civilizations:
  • Tigris – Euphrates Civilization:


  • Sumerians:
  • Egyptian Civilization:


  • Indian River Valley Civilization:
  • Chinese River Valley Civilization:


  • The Shang Dynasty:
  • Culture:


  • Jews:
  • Neolithic Age:


  • Bands:
  • Bronze Age:


  • Hunting and gathering:
  • Slash and burn agriculture:


  • Nomads:
  • Babylonians:


  • Ideographic:
  • Gilgamesh:


Chapter 1, Quiz Questions

1) Hunting and gathering societies
A) are not able to produce art.
B) are always warlike and require little land.
C) organize rather small groups into political units.
D) could not survive after Middle Eastern people developed agriculture.
E) generally produce a food surplus.

2) The Paleolithic Age refers to
A) the period at which agriculture was developed.
B) the period in which simple stone tools were developed.
C) the period before the full development of the Homo sapiens species.
D) the period before people learned how to communicate.
E) the latest of the two stone ages.

3) A characteristic of the human species before the advent of civilization was
A) the ability to spread to various geographic settings and climate zones.
B) the ability to organize large political units.
C) the inability to communicate about abstractions such as death.
D) that all tasks were shared equally by men and women.
E) land ownership was equal.

4) The development of agriculture caused important changes in all of the following EXCEPT
A) population size and life expectancy.
B) male-female relations.
C) the tendency to believe in many gods.
D) the stability of human settlements.
E) the development of complex social patterns.

5) The Neolithic revolution occurred first in
A) Egypt.
B) the Middle East.
C) Central America.
D) China.
E) India.

6) Why did the original inhabitants of Australia not develop agriculture?
A) Australian soil was too barren to grow crops.
B) The Australian climate was too severe.
C) They were too isolated to learn of developments elsewhere until recently.
D) Australia never experienced an ice age.
E) They were prevented from doing so by the Neolithic revolution.

7) Once developed, metal tools were preferred over stone tools for all of the following reasons EXCEPT
A) they were easier for ordinary people to make at home.
B) they were sharper and more precise.
C) they permitted more diverse shapes.
D) they could be used to make accurate weapons.
E) they were more durable.

8) A society is almost certainly a civilization if
A) it practices sedentary agriculture.
B) it involves tool use.
C) it has religious rituals.
D) it has some political structure.
E) it gathers food to survive.

9) The development of writing
A) resulted from new technologies, notably the invention of paper.
B) helps explain why agriculture could develop.
C) helps explain why governments could become more formal and bureaucratic.
D) resulted from the needs of the various river valley civilizations to communicate with one another.
E) was unusual in an agricultural society.

10) The earliest known writing in a civilization first developed in
A) Mesoamerica
B) Egypt
C) China
D) the Middle East
E) India

11) Sumerian civilization produced the first
A) written law code.
B) monotheistic religion.
C) examples of warfare among people.
D) mass literacy.
E) coined money.

12) The characteristic political organization of the Tigris-Euphrates civilization was
A) democracy.
B) large, durable empires.
C) village-level government.
D) regional city-states.
E) hunting bands.

13) Egypt differed from Mesopotamian civilization by stressing
A) well-organized, durable empires.
B) extensive trade.
C) firm religious beliefs.
D) greater social equality.
E) more modest building projects.

14) Which river valley civilization was most completely destroyed by natural disasters such as climate change?
A) Huang he
B) Indus
C) Nile
D) Tigris-Euphrates
E) Mekong

15) Among the early river civilizations
A) the Huang he culture in China was the most isolated.
B) sedentary agriculture first developed in Mesoamerica.
C) writing was only found in the Nile river valley.
D) west Africa developed the first empire.
E) the use of metal tools spread very slowly.

16) Jewish monotheism
A) was spread actively by Jewish missionaries throughout the Middle East.
B) proposed a less human-like and more abstract God.
C) included worship of various lesser gods.
D) emerged at the high point of Sumerian civilization.
E) influenced no other religions.

17) Which of the following areas was NOT one of the earliest civilizations to develop?
A) Middle East
B) Northeastern Africa
C) West Africa
D) Northwestern India
E) Northern China

Essay Questions:
From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations

  1. What advantages does an agriculturally based society have over a hunter gatherer based society?


  1. Compared to non-civilized societies, what are the major drawbacks of civilization?
  1. Why is the development of writing important in the history of the river valley civilizations?


  1. Compare the main features of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations.  What did the two civilizations have in common as early civilizations?  What were their main differences in values and organization?
  1. Why was Jewish monotheism a significant development in the religious history of early civilization?



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